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Q&A: Corrado Priami Explains Why Computer Science Is Systems Biology's Best Foundation

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CoSBi CEO Corrado Priami

CoSBi CEO Corrado Priami

Punto Informatico

University of Trento professor Corrado Priami is CEO of the Microsoft Research-University of Trento Center for Computational and Systems Biology (CoSBi). "Biology is now experiencing heightened interest in system dynamics — interpreting living organisms as information manipulators — and [the field] is moving toward systems biology, looking at systems made up of communicating devices, information processing, interconnected computational units," Priami says in an interview. "Computer science is the best candidate for laying the foundation of systems biology, and not mathematics as it has been thought so far."

Priami says that medium-term failure is the result of boosting computing power to solve increasingly complex problems, while solving a problem is accomplished with the discovery of the correct abstraction and the proper linguistic primitives to model the problem. He says the CoSBi Lab platform for in silico labs defines PCs as standard architectures in order that any lab can benefit from CoSBi's research while also being partially dependent on cloud computing. "CoSBi aims to contribute to the future of computer science by developing a novel generation of operating systems and programming languages that enables simulation-based research within a quantitative reference framework that connects in silico replica and actual systems by means of new quantitative conceptual and computational tools," Priami says. He stresses that open source, open access products and vendor products must coexist and vitalize each other to enhance the general quality of the available computational tools.

Priami outlined the opportunities for computer science in systems biology in "Algorithmic Systems Biology" in the May issue of the Communications of the ACM.

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